Christmas in the Riviera Maya: Celebrating the Traditions of Mexico

In Mexico, the Christmas holidays begin on December 12th with the celebrations for the Virgin of Guadalupe and officially end on January 6th or Three Kings Day. Many extend the date to February 2nd or Candlemas Day, to share some atole and tamales with friends and family.

Once again we are approaching the end of another year, and we take time to celebrate, share and make resolutions for the new cycle begins. For many  these celebrations are all about family and friends while others focus on the spiritual side of the holidays. There are unique traditions in Mexico due to a mix of pre-Hispanic, Spanish and religious traditions which have evolved over time. Here are some of them:

Celebrating the traditions of Mexico: Las Posadas

Las Posadas are so traditional that its´ name is given to any Christmas party: the one at the office, the gym or with your family. The central idea of Las Posadas is to remember the journey of Joseph and Mary who looked for a place to spend the night, only to be rejected: as a result baby Jesus born in a lowly barn.
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The traditional celebration is marked by the arrival of the figures of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus at the house, carried by a group of guests that come with candles and sing a traditional song that ask for shelter to the group that is within house. After a long process the doors finally open to welcome the pilgrims, followed by prayers, food and the traditional piñata.

Celebrating the traditions of Mexico: The Nativity Set

The Nativity set is a tradition that has spread from the nativity scenes in Spain. In Mexico the figurines are traditionally made with clay and decorated with bright colors. Traditional nativity sets are composed of the figures of Joseph, Mary and the child as well as barn animals.

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There are thousands of figures available: some religious, some funny, some showing virtues or sins, etc. These figurines take all the space below the Christmas tree and their style varies according to the region of Mexico where they were made.

Celebrating the traditions of Mexico: La Pinata

There is nothing like a colorful pinata to celebrate the holidays in Mexico.  You will be surprised to know that the Mexican piñata has its origins in China, from where it went to Italy where it was known as pignata. Little by little the tradition spreaded over to Spain until it finally got to Mexico, popularized by Catholic priests trying to attract new followers of the new religion.

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The traditional Christmas Pinata is 7 peaks, representing the 7 deadly sins. Hitting the piñata symbolizes getting sin out of our lives, to be rewarded by the delicious sweets and fruits that are inside.

Mexico has so many different Christmas traditions it is hard to keep up!  Have you ever integrated a Mexican tradition during your holiday celebrations? Is there a specific tradition in the area where you live? We would love to hear!

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